Interview with Ed Gardner

So, now the voter registration drive has its impetus. How did people say in the middle class and the other parts of the business community respond to this? This was like a first wasn't it?


You know, I tell you brother, the one thing we did, you know, my son said, look let's not say that Soft Sheen is behind this. We ran radio commercials for two or three weeks. Come alive October 5**. Real sharp commercials that would alert and really, ah, get our Black community behind it. And they kept saying, well, we're, whose paying for all these? There were many spots, something like 14 and 15 spots a day. But also, once we advertised on, on a station, we had the station also match our spots. So we had a large number of spots running every day. But we had that power and the strength as a major advertiser to get them to do this**. Ah, so, we did say, saw she was behind it and finally one of the disc jockeys said, look this is going on long enough. We're going to say Soft Sheen is putting up the dollars for this commercial. We didn't mind it but we felt that we didn't want people to say, well here's Soft Sheen use it for some type of advertisement ploy to help them sell products. We wanted to be known as a company that's going to try to increase voter registration in this city of Chicago in the Black community. There's no reason for us to be here and not take part in helping to run this city. And if you got a quarter of a million Blacks not even registered, then don't tell me about Jane Byrne or Richard Daley or anybody else until we do our job. So, we felt that, ah, the registration job had to be done. We did it and we had the, the, not only the dollars but most important, most important, we had the minds. We had the sharp, creative Black minds who came through Black colleges because of what Dr. King did during that period of time, whose parents had the dollars to send them through school because of what Dr. King did. All this was made possible because of Dr. King, when we were staring back in 1960, well 19, yeah, '64 when we were just getting Soft Sheen started.